Image and article from the Huffington Post
Awareness of Biased Media
There is not question that biased and fake news causes confusion. Often times when it comes to biased, media viewers are going to gravitate towards and stick with outlets that confirm their own biases, which is discussed within the PSE post. The issues with media bias is that it is favorable and therefore, due to either comfort and/or confirmation viewers of a specific news source will shy away from seeking out other coverage of a similar story from sources that do not support their own ideas and bias. There are sources that give the news as best and unbiased as possible, which are listed on this site. If you are one of those viewers who may not look beyond your own news source or bias, it would be a good idea to check out those sites that are posted on this site. Anyways, back to what was found about the want for factual, unbiased media delivered to them.
In a PEW Research Center article, it was found that from a survey taken from 38 different countries, 75% of the poll showed that it is never acceptable to show partisan in the news but only 52% of the poll felt as if their news outlet gave the news without partisan, which is biased within itself. For example, 47% of the sample taken from the U.S. feel as if the different political viewpoints are being reported very/somewhat well in news media, 56% feel as if their news is reported accurately, 61% feel as if the most important news stories are being presented very or somewhat well, and 58% feel as if their news about governmental leaders and officials are being reported well. The U.S. is slightly above the median on the feeling that there should never be partisan in the news sitting at 78%, and 56% of the sample says the news is doing totally well at reporting accurate news, 16% say very well, and 43% say totally not well. Now overall these numbers do not look horrible. However, when looking at this think about the fact that the news that we consume takes up part of knowledge of the world and the U.S. for that fact, so the concern that there is any percentage under the not very well category when it is dealing with our own awareness and knowledge that we receive from media outlets is concerning. Now to build off of those numbers in the survey dealing with the viewer’s news source reporting all sides of a story fairly show that only 47% say totally well, 13% say very well and 52% say not well at all. Proving that people at least the sample being asked is aware that the stories they are receiving may be true but not totally inclusive of all points of views and sides. The fact that the 47% in the U.S. falls under the global median of 52% is alarming.
The Pew Research Center’s study gives great insight into the feelings of people around the world and their thoughts on the state of their media. News, as mentioned before, is a crucial part to our knowledge of current events and circumstances surrounding us therefore, if you really care about what you are talking about and news that you are consuming then get outside of the box of your confirmation bias, understand that there is potential biased in the media, search for external sources with different point of views, and expand your knowledge beyond what you come to believe because you simply agree with it. There is biased in nearly everything, not just media, so it is much easier said than done but consider what was mentioned and be aware that although biased news may not be fake news it may not be accurate or thorough news. I if interested, the link that contains the statistics and research above and more like it from the PEW Research Center is posted below.
Russia Probe Investigation Bias
The Russia Probe investigation has been an ongoing investigation over the past year concerning the legitimacy of the 2016 presidential election. The investigation started after a leak of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails from Russian hackers and there is investigation over if there are connections to the Trump campaign and these leaks.
Depending on where you get your news information, news is spread and promoted by saying things that interest the fanbase. As a result of media bias in two major news outlets, CNN and Fox News give out true information without all the information, to promote their opinions concerning their preferred party/candidates.
CNN is known for choosing liberal opinions and promoting the liberal agenda. One case in the Russia Probe investigation is when they released a quote about the memo that was released.
“In the past year, the dossier has become the boogeyman of Republicans and a sacred text for Democrats. Regardless of the partisan spin, CNN has reported that US investigators have corroborated some aspects of the dossier, especially claims relating to conversations among foreign nationals.”
Fox News is known for choosing conservative opinions and promoting the conservative agenda. The other side of the memo promoted by Fox is a quote saying “Trump said the memo “vindicates” him in the Russia investigation. But Democrats have dismissed the memo as “misleading,” saying it was released by Republicans in order to push the narrative that the probe is biased against the president. Weeks later, they released their own rebuttal memo, which defends the FBI and Justice Department.”
From an outsiders perspective, how is anyone to know who is telling the true story? Not researching your data before considering it all true is something that many people fall victim to. Investigate!
Cohen, M. (2018, January 05). Trump-Russia investigation, from the start. Retrieved March 28, 2018, from https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/05/politics/trump-russia-investigation-documentary/index.html
Schallhorn, K. (2018, March 16). Trump and the Russia investigation: What to know. Retrieved March 28, 2018, from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/03/16/trump-and-russia-investigation-what-to-know.html
Test your knowledge of fake and biased news
Want to test your knowledge of fake and biased news? Open the document below to find portions of news articles that you can determine if they are fake or biased. There is an answer key located at the end as well as links below that correspond to the questions so that you can investigate further.
The video above is a Youtube post created by the Washington Post, and it shows the different reactions from anchors of CNN and Fox News on President Donald Trump’s remarks about Third World countries. CNN and Fox News are two sources in which cover national and international news for the U.S. citizens and often tend to have different views on political and social situations. In this video, you see the polar opposite reactions to the president’s remarks. One source is criticizing the president, and one is defending his actions. This is not a post to push across our own biased but to show how in the news biased can impact the way in which a story is covered.
Pizzagate Conspiracy and Shooting
This is a ridiculous and completely true story that illustrates the dangers of the spread of fake news. Pizzagate is a conspiracy theory that gained virility during the 2016 United States election. In the fall of 2016, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, was hacked in a spear-phishing attack. His emails were made public by WikiLeaks and some viewers claimed that the emails contained coded messages that connected several United States restaurants to human trafficking.
On October 30th, 2016, a white supremacist Twitter account made a claim that the New York City Police Department discovered the existence of a pedophilia ring linked to members of the Democratic party. Later that fall, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, was hacked in a spear-phishing attack which allowed his emails to be made public over WikiLeaks. Some viewers speculated that the emails contained code words for pedophilia and human trafficking, identifying several restaurants across America as fronts for child-sex rings (Aisch, 2016). The conspiracy ran through message boards, 4chan and Reddit, and was spread by fake news sites and promoted by alt-right activists. Jonathan Albright, an assistant professor at Elon University said that a large number of Pizzagate tweets came from the Czech Repbulic, Cyprus, and Vietnam, and that some of the most frequent retweeters were bots (Fisher et al., 2016).
The online conspirators identified a Washington D.C. Pizzeria, Comet Ping Pong, as one of these speculated fronts. The restaurant’s owner, staff, patrons, and even the bands that performed were bombarded with threats and harassment over social media. The owner, James Alefantis, told New York Times that “From this insane, fabricated conspiracy theory, we’ve come under constant assault. I’ve done nothing for days but try to clean this up and protect my staff and friends from being terrorized” (Kang, 2016). Some of the other businesses in D.C. that received related harassment was Besta Pizza, Little Red Fox, the Bookstore Politics and Prose, and the French Bistro Terasol. However, allegations reached up to Brooklyn and as far as Texas and many faced harassment and death threats (Fisher et al., 2016).
This situation came to a peak when on December 4th, 2016, Edgar Maddison Welch walked into Comet Ping Pong pizzeria with an AR-15 rifle. He believed the conspiracies and decided to take action to “self-investigate” and rescue those who may be contained in the restaurant, effectively and heroically putting an end to this trafficking ring (Aisch, 2016). Welch didn’t seem to intend to harm anyone unless given proof of the allegations, as he allowed staff and customers, those including children, to escape the premise. He fired three shots, at a wall, desk, and a door, and fortunately, no one was injured in the situation (US v Welch, 2016). Welch surrendered to police officers and was arrested without incident.
Welch’s criminal allegation stated that “Welch appears to have been motivated, in part, by unfounded rumors concerning a child sex-trafficking ring that was being perpetrated by high-profile individuals at the Comet Ping Pong restaurant.” Furthermore, it explains that police found text messages in which Welch tried to recruit two friends to help him attack the restaurant. Two days before the shooting, Welch asks a friend referred to as “C” if they were “down for the cause.” Welch explains that his cause is “Raiding a pedo ring, possibly sacraficing [sic] the lives of a few for the lives of many. Standing up against a corrupt system that kidnaps, tortures and rapes babies and children in our own backyard… defending the next generation of kids, our kids, from ever having to experience this kind of evil themselves[.] I’m sorry bro, but I’m tired of turning the channel and hoping someone does something and being thankful it’s not my family. One day it will be our families. The world is too afraid to act and I’m too stubborn not to” (US v Welch, 2016). It’s clear that “Pizzagate” was a very real injustice to Welch; it wasn’t some spoofy joke on Reddit or unfounded idea conjured up by a 4chan user.
This story is a great example of the harm that misinformation can do. While the situation ended without anyone getting hurt, many people were harassed, doxed, and sent death threats, several businesses suffered from these unfounded claims, and a man was convinced enough to potentially kill before being sentenced to four years in prison.
Aisch, G., Huang, J., & Kang, C. (2016, December 10). Dissecting the #PizzaGate Conspiracy Theories. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/12/10/business/media/pizzagate.html
Fisher, M., Cox, J. W., & Hermann, P. (2016, December 06). Pizzagate: From rumor, to hashtag, to gunfire in D.C. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/pizzagate-from-rumor-to-hashtag-to-gunfire-in-dc/2016/12/06/4c7def50-bbd4-11e6-94ac-3d324840106c_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.7c199c444647
Kang, C. (2016, November 21). Fake News Onslaught Targets Pizzeria as Nest of Child-Trafficking. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/21/technology/fact-check-this-pizzeria-is-not-a-child-trafficking-site.html
US v Welch Affidavit in Support of Criminal Complaint, Https://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/pizzagate-affidavit.pdf (United States District Court for the District of Columbia December 12, 2016).
Looking for examples of reliable news sources?
How to choose your news
Visit https://ed.ted.com/lessons/how-to-choose-your-news-damon-brown to learn more. On the right hand side of the video there is an opportunity to Think, Dig Deeper, and Discuss this video with other people trying to learn more about this issue just like you
Why is fake and biased news a problem?
Currently, K-12 curriculum is not able to keep up with ever-changing technology. Children are now spending more time online than ever before, yet they are not getting better at comprehending the content of what they are seeing. Everyone, from middle school to college, was found to be “easily duped” by misinformation found online. They were not able to reason with information they find. Humanities courses are one way to add this to the curriculum, but teachers say that they do not have enough time to teach the critical skills students desperately need. This is what has led to the under-education of students on this issue. It has been found that even the brightest students struggle to distinguish between fake and biased news.
We have chosen to target high school aged students with our project for several reasons. First, they are old enough to comprehend what we are trying to teach. They are beginning to learn how to do research, and we hope to help them identify real news sources better. Additionally, we want to educate students before they are old enough to vote. We hope to show them how to consider all sides of the story before forming their own opinion. Better educated voters leads to a brighter future.
“Five years ago, it was difficult to get people to understand what we were doing and what we wanted to see happen in education and the skills students needed to learn,”
“Now there is no question about the vitalness of this in classrooms.” -Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, executive director of the National Association for Media Literacy Education
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